Advocates say the decision by some landlords to oust renters risks leaving more people homeless in an already tight housing market.
When wildfires destroyed Lahaina on Aug. 8, Miranda Boam lost both of her jobs, her favorite hangout spots and the town she adores.
But while she didn’t lose her Lahaina apartment to the blaze, she’s about to be displaced for another reason.
Boam and dozens of other tenants around Maui have received 45-day notices to vacate — many coming from landlords who say they need their properties back to house family members whose homes were destroyed in the fires.
Alan Lloyd, an organizer with the Maui Tenants Association, a project of Hawaii Workers Center, said over the last week, the group’s hotline has received 10 to 15 calls per day from renters who say they’ve received notices to vacate.
Lloyd calls it a second wave of people about to be uprooted from their homes after the fire left thousands homeless in an already tight housing market.
“It’s really an eviction storm,” he said. “It’s the worst of the worst, because it puts everyone in crisis.”
A 45-day notice sent to a renter on a month-to-month lease isn’t technically an eviction. And tenants do have some recourse.
They can look online to see if their landlord has listed their unit for rent, which would indicate the property owner isn’t really using it for a family member, Lloyd said. In that case, the tenant could write a letter contesting the notice to vacate.
‘Shell Shocked And So Numb’
But many renters won’t go up against property owners or take them to court because they may need to use the landlord as